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Small Modular Nuclear Reactors for Canada – would create a host of new problems

Telegraph-Journal 9th Aug 2018 Several experts blinked a few weeks ago when the province announced its
intention to begin research into new types of nuclear reactors, smaller and
producing less electricity. It would not be the first time the New
Brunswick government has turned to nuclear power for its energy supply.
Should the province proceed more cautiously this time?

The New Brunswick government recently pledged $10 million to create a nuclear research group.
The province also announced on July 9 a partnership with the American
company Advanced Reactor Concepts, which will try to build a new type of
more compact nuclear reactor designed to produce 100 MW of electricity,
nearly six times less than the Point Lepreau nuclear power plant.

Then a week later, the province announced another partnership with the English
company Moltex. The latter is even promising a reactor capable of producing
energy by reusing nuclear wastes (from uranium fuel). This perspective is
tempting at first. Among the advantages of Moltex’s reactors are (1) the
ability to produce clean energy at low cost and (2) the ability to reduce
environmental impacts by burning irradiated uranium fuel. William Cook,
professor of chemical engineering at the Centre for Nuclear Energy Research
at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton, believes that small
modular reactors could be quite efficient in terms of energy production,
and that they could overcome many of the problems created by conventional
CANDU (Canada Deuterium Uranium) reactors such as Point Lepreau.

On the one hand, Mr. Cook says that the small reactors under development are small
enough to be built in a factory and then transported to a destination by
train or ship, which would significantly reduce their cost of installation.
He also mentioned the possibility of reusing the uranium fuel from the
Point Lepreau reactor. “Not all compact reactor models can use irradiated
nuclear fuel, but [Moltex] is advertising that they can process the old
fuel on site to prepare it for reuse. There is still an enormous amount of
energy remaining in the spent fuel when it comes out of a CANDU reactor,”
says the chemical engineering professor.

But this concept of a small reactor that reuses nuclear fuel is only a dream for now. In fact, the
project is still in its infancy. “Certainly [small modular reactors are]
very far from commercialization, or even feasibility,” says Gordon
Edwards, president of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility, a
non-profit organization based in Montreal.

According to Edwards, the deployment of these reactors would create a host of new problems. He
disputes the benefits promised by Moltex. “The benefits of small modular
reactors are zero,” he says. “For used fuel from Point Lepreau to be
recycled, it would first have to be reprocessed after it is removed from
the reactor.”

He explained that this would result in the creation of
liquid and volatile [gaseous] radioactive waste. He also noted that [the
Moltex] small modular reactor would use plutonium, unlike Point Lepreau,
which uses uranium. The use of uranium creates plutonium as a byproduct. So
part of the [Moltex] plutonium fuel could come from Point Lepreau, but the
province could also import it from the United States.
https://www.telegraphjournal.com/letoile/story/100669270/point-lepreau-nucleaire-petits-reacteurs-dechets-environnement

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August 11, 2018 Posted by | Canada, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

Cleaner, cheaper, safer, more practical – cyclotrons

QUANTM Irradiation System™ Earns CE Mark Approval  https://business.financialpost.com/pmn/press-releases-pmn/business-wire-news-releases-pmn/quantm-irradiation-system-earns-ce-mark-approval

VANCOUVER, British Columbia, 8 Aug 18 — ARTMS Products today announced it received CE marking approval for its first-in-class, advanced technology QUANTM Irradiation System™ for producing high-value radioisotopes, such as Tc-99m and Ga-68, on medical cyclotrons. Cyclotron facilities are constantly facing higher isotope costs and poor supply availability. Now, with CE marking, ARTMS’ QUANTM Irradiation System™ will help ease these issues.

“CE marking is an important milestone for ARTMS,” remarked Dr. Kaley Wilson, CEO of ARTMS Products. “There is a huge opportunity in providing a cost effective and secured supply of radioisotopes to hospitals and research institutions. ARTMS provides a more economical, environmentally safe and secured supply of important radioisotopes than reactor-based sources. Now, with CE marking approval, ARTMS can be readily integrated in a standardized fashion into existing and emerging facilities which ultimately leads to improved patient access and care across Europe.”

Giving Cyclotron Facilities More Control Over the Supply of Medical Isotopes

Unlike traditional reactor and generator production methods, which are growing increasingly more expensive and cannot consistently supply user requirements, the ARTMS QUANTM Irradiation System™ combines both local production control and a cost-effective, easy-to-use solid target system for production of radioisotopes on medical cyclotrons. Medical radioisotopes are used in the field of nuclear medicine on a daily basis for both medical diagnostic imaging and therapy, particularly in the fields of oncology, cardiology and neurology.

The ARTMS QUANTM Irradiation System™ is currently available for most OEM cyclotron systems and has been installed and is operating in a number of countries.

About ARTMS Products

Based in Vancouver, British Columbia, ARTMS Products Inc. is a leader in the development of novel technologies and products which enable the production of the world’s most-used diagnostic imaging isotope, technetium-99m (Tc-99m), using local, hospital-based medical cyclotrons. ARTMS holds the exclusive global commercialization rights to award-winning and proprietary Canadian inventions which address these challenges, and which offer the prospect of revolutionizing the nuclear medicine industry.

For more information on the QUANTM Irradiation System™ and ARTMS Products, please follow us on Twitter @Quantm99 and LinkedIn and visit http://www.artms.ca/

 

August 11, 2018 Posted by | Canada, health, technology | Leave a comment

Biased and unreliable – UK’s ‘Expert Finance Working Group on Small Modular Reactors’

NFLA 8th Aug 2018 , The Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) notes the report by the ‘Expert
Finance Working Group on Small Modular Reactors’ as another attempt to
promote the benefits of this technology despite large and quite possibly
insurmountable hurdles to cross.

The report was commissioned by the UK
Government to consider ways to provide market frameworks for the
development of small nuclear reactors to prosper. The Government suggests
it is an ‘independent’ group, yet at least half of the group have
strong links to the nuclear industry, including the Nuclear Industry
Association, the main UK supporter for such technology.

Over the past few
years, the UK Government has put forward the potential of small nuclear
reactors to be a part of a future ‘low carbon’ energy mix. The UK
appear to be one of the few governments pursuing such a strategy, as even
France and Finland, the only other countries in Europe currently developing
large nuclear projects, have no plans to develop such technology. Indeed
France has just commissioned a whole raft of new smaller-scale solar energy
projects.
http://www.nuclearpolicy.info/news/small-modular-nuclear-reactors-financing-report-nfla-remain-sceptical-such-technology-as-cost-effective-as-renewables/

August 10, 2018 Posted by | Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, UK | 1 Comment

Nuclear fusion – if it ever works – will be far too late to affect climate change

Fusion start-ups hope to revolutionize energy in the coming decades  With the help of venture capital funding and new technologies, a cadre of companies want to commercialize fusion energy in the next 20 years, Science News,   by Katherine Bourzac, AUGUST 6, 2018 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 96, ISSUE 32

“……..A multinational, multi-billion-dollar, multidecade project called ITER promises to demonstrate net energy production from nuclear fusion after its reactor turns on in 2025. (Iter means “the way” in Latin; the project was originally called the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor.) But the ITER design is not scalable—it’s far too large and expensive to serve as a power plant on the electrical grid. Instead, it’s designed to give partner countries the research tools they need to start building practical fusion reactors sometime in 2055 at the earliest.

That’s far too late, some researchers say, especially in the face of climate change. “We need fusion energy to be deployable at a scale of tens of gigawatts at many power plants in the 2030s to tackle carbon emissions,” says David Kingham, executive vice chair of Tokamak Energy, a fusion start-up in Oxfordshire, England.

This dream of clean, abundant energy from nuclear fusion has been echoing in basement labs like the one at MIT since the 1950s. But since that time, no one has yet shown that a fusion reactor can produce more energy than it consumes—let alone run stably for years or decades………

fusion entrepreneurs and the deep-pocketed investors who are sponsoring them are seeing green. “Fusion has been undervalued by governments. It’s long term. It’s speculative. But the upside is huge,” Greenwald, the deputy director of the MIT center and a cofounder of Commonwealth Fusion Systems, says. “There’s trillions of dollars to be made. There’s trillions of watts of additional demand coming,” says Michl Binderbauer, CEO of TAE Technologies in Foothill Ranch, Calif.

Still, there are skeptics who think these start-up companies’ promises are unreasonable—at least on the aggressive time frames they’re promising. And some of the companies, skeptics say, are working on designs that physicists have deemed not ready for the grid anytime soon, while neglecting practical issues such as how to build reactors resilient enough to withstand the intense heat produced during fusion……..

August 8, 2018 Posted by | 2 WORLD, technology | Leave a comment

Small Modular Nuclear Reactors (SMRs) now recognised as unviable: governments still pouring money into them

AMRs rise from the ashes of SMRs  No2nuclearpower, 29 July 18

On both sides of the Atlantic billions of dollars are being poured into developing small modular reactors. (SMRs) But it seems increasingly unlikely that they will ever be commercially viable, writes Paul Brown on the Climate News Network.

The idea is to build dozens of the reactors (SMRs) in factories in kit form, to be assembled on site, thereby reducing their costs, a bit like the mass production of cars. The problem is finding a market big enough to justify the building of a factory to build nuclear power station kits. For the last 60 years the trend has been to build ever-larger nuclear reactors, hoping that they would pump out so much power that their output would be cheaper per unit than power from smaller stations. However, the cost of large stations has escalated so much that without massive government subsidies they will never be built, because they are not commercially viable. To get costs down, small factory-built reactors seemed the answer. It is not new technology, and efforts to introduce it are nothing new either, with UK hopes high just a few years ago. Small reactors have been built for decades for nuclear submarine propulsion and for ships like icebreakers, but for civilian use they have to produce electricity more cheaply than their renewable competitors, wind and solar power. A number of companies in the UK and North America are developing SMRs, and prototypes are expected to be up and running as early as 2025.

However, the next big step is getting investment in a factory to build them, which will mean getting enough advance orders to justify the cost. A group of pro-nuclear US scientists, who believe that nuclear technology is vital to fight climate change, have concluded that there is not a large enough market to make SMRS work. Their report, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, says that large reactors will be phased out on economic grounds, and that the market for SMRs is too small to be viable. On a market for the possible export of the hundreds of SMRs needed to reach viability, they say none large enough exists.

 In the UK, where the government in June poured £200 million ($263.8) into SMR development, a parliamentary briefing paper issued in July lists a whole raft of reasons why the technology may not find a market.  The paper’s authors doubt that a mass-produced reactor could be suitable for every site chosen; there might, for instance, be local conditions requiring extra safety features. They also doubt that there is enough of a market for SMRs in the UK to justify building a factory to produce them, because of public opposition to nuclear power and the reactors’ proximity to population centres. And although the industry and the government believe an export market exists, the report suggests this is optimistic, partly because so many countries have already rejected nuclear power

New funding measures for advanced reactor research and manufacturing will help the UK retain and grow its nuclear expertise and signals support for a widening range of SMR applications, according to Nuclear Energy Insider. The UK nuclear industry has broadly welcomed the UK government’s new 200 million-pound ($263.8-million) Nuclear Sector Deal which aims to cut the cost of nuclear power and bolster the UK skills base.

The deal, announced June 27, includes £56m towards the development and licensing of advanced modular reactor (AMR) designs and £32m towards advanced manufacturing research. In addition, the UK and Welsh governments will jointly invest $40 million in new thermal hydraulics testing. The development funding will initially allocate a total £4m to eight non-light water reactor (non-LWR) vendors, to perform detailed technical and commercial feasibility studies. The eight vendors are: Advanced Reactor Concepts; DBD; LeadCold; Moltex Energy (which is planning to build a demonstration SSR-W – Stable Salt Reactor Wasteburner at Point Lepreau in New Brunswick Canada); Tokamak Energy; U-Battery Developments; Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation and Westinghouse Electric Company UK

In April 2019, three or four of these companies will be selected to receive a total of £40m to accelerate the development of the design over two years. The Office for nuclear regulation will receive £5m to support the process and a further £7m to build regulatory resources to assess and license new designs.

The new development funding schedule indicates the government has slowed down and broadened its approach to SMR deployment since it launched a competition for the best value SMR in March 2016.

The latest funding announcements could, for now, prevent an exodus of UK expertise to other countries supporting SMR development. Several advanced reactor developers are simultaneously pursuing SMR programs in North America, where government support programs are larger

The final selection of SMR designs will come later than originally expected and signals a change in scope and a recognition of multiple potential applications, Mike Middleton, Strategy ManagerNuclear at the Energy Technologies Institute (ETI), said. The funding scope recognises the application of SMR technologies could be “broader than the traditional role as a baseload electricity provider.”

In addition to baseload supply, SMR developers are targeting applications such as renewable energy load following, industrial power and heat, district heating, and hydrogen production.(3)

Meanwhile Rolls-Royce is threatening to shut down its SMR development project unless the government makes a long-term commitment including financial support in the coming months. It has scaled back investment significantly, from several millions to simply paying for “a handful of salaries”, said Warren East, Rolls-Royce chief executive. David Orr, executive vice-president of Rolls-Royce’s SMR programme, said that without comfort from the government on two fronts the project “will not fly. We are coming to crunch time.”

Rolls-Royce wants its technology to be chosen as the first to apply for a licence when a slot is made available later this year. It also wants the government to provide financial support, initially of about £20m, to take the technology through the early stages of the licensing process. This would be match-funded by the consortium, which includes companies such as Laing O’Rouke and Arup. Rolls-Royce is one of several consortia to have bid in a governmentsponsored competition launched in 2015 to find the most viable technology for a new generation of small nuclear power plants.

 However, when the nuclear sector deal was finally unveiled last month, the government allocated funding only for more advanced modular reactors (AMRs). SMR’s, which typically use water-cooled reactors similar to existing nuclear power stations, were omitted from specific funding even though they are closer to becoming commercial. This has frustrated those putting forward SMR bids. Rolls-Royce has argued that developing its technology should be regarded as a “national endeavour” to develop nuclear skills that can be used to create an export led industry. (4) http://www.no2nuclearpower.org.uk/wp/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/NuClearNewsNo109.pdf

July 30, 2018 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

Small Modular Nuclear Reactors – no commercial future? But they make the nuclear industry LOOK viable

Small modular reactors have little appeal https://climatenewsnetwork.net/small-modular-reactors-have-little-appeal/ July 27, 2018, by Paul Brown , London 

The last hope of the nuclear industry for competing with renewables is small modular reactors, but despite political support their future looks bleak.

On both sides of the Atlantic billions of dollars are being poured into developing small modular reactors. But it seems increasingly unlikely that they will ever be commercially viable.

The idea is to build dozens of the reactors (SMRs) in factories in kit form, to be assembled on site, thereby reducing their costs, a bit like the mass production of cars. The problem is finding a market big enough to justify the building of a factory to build nuclear power station kits.

For the last 60 years the trend has been to build ever-larger nuclear reactors, hoping that they would pump out so much power that their output would be cheaper per unit than power from smaller stations. However, the cost of large stations has escalated so much that without massive government subsidies they will never be built, because they are not commercially viable.

To get costs down, small factory-built reactors seemed the answer. It is not new technology, and efforts to introduce it are nothing new either, with UK hopes high just a few years ago. Small reactors have been built for decades for nuclear submarine propulsion and for ships like icebreakers, but for civilian use they have to produce electricity more cheaply than their renewable competitors, wind and solar power.

One of the problems for nuclear weapons states is that they need a workforce of highly skilled engineers and scientists, both to maintain their submarine fleets and constantly to update the nuclear warheads, which degrade over time. So maintaining a civil nuclear industry means there is always a large pool of people with the required training.

Although in the past the UK and US governments have both claimed there is no link between civil and military nuclear industries, it is clear that a skills shortage is now a problem.

It seems that both the industry and the two governments have believed SMRs would be able to solve the shortage and also provide electricity at competitive rates, benefitting from the mass production of components in controlled environments and assembling reactors much like flat-pack furniture.

This is now the official blueprint for success – even though there are no prototypes yet to prove the technology works reliably. But even before that happens, there are serious doubts about whether there is a market for these reactors.

Among the most advanced countries on SMR development are the USthe UK  and Canada. Russia has already built SMRs and deployed one of them as a floating power station in the Arctic. But whether this is an economic way of producing power for Russia is not known.

Finding investors

A number of companies in the UK and North America are developing SMRs, and prototypes are expected to be up and running as early as 2025. However, the next big step is getting investment in a factory to build them, which will mean getting enough advance orders to justify the cost.

A group of pro-nuclear US scientists, who believe that nuclear technology is vital to fight climate change, have concluded that there is not a large enough market to make SMRS work.

Their report, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, says that large reactors will be phased out on economic grounds, and that the market for SMRs is too small to be viable. On a market for the possible export of the hundreds of SMRs needed to reach viability, they say none large enough exists.

They conclude: “It should be a source of profound concern for all who care about climate change that, for entirely predictable and resolvable reasons, the United States appears set to virtually lose nuclear power, and thus a wedge of reliable and low-carbon energy, over the next few decades.”

Doubts listed

In the UK, where the government in June poured £200 million ($263.8) into SMR development, a parliamentary briefing paper issued in July lists a whole raft of reasons why the technology may not find a market.

The paper’s authors doubt that a mass-produced reactor could be suitable for every site chosen; there might, for instance, be local conditions requiring extra safety features.

They also doubt that there is enough of a market for SMRs in the UK to justify building a factory to produce them, because of public opposition to nuclear power and the reactors’ proximity to population centres. And although the industry and the government believe an export market exists, the report suggests this is optimistic, partly because so many countries have already rejected nuclear power.

The paper says those countries still keen on buying the technology often have no experience of the nuclear industry. It suggests too that there may be international alarm about nuclear proliferation in some markets. – Climate News Network

July 28, 2018 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

Questions: why does USA allow only Japan to reprocess plutonium?

Japan’s ‘plutonium exception’ under fire as nuclear pact extended https://asia.nikkei.com/Politics/International-Relations/Japan-s-plutonium-exception-under-fire-as-nuclear-pact-extended  Beijing and Seoul question why US allows only Tokyo to reprocess, TOKYO — Japan’s nuclear cooperation agreement with the U.S. — the pillar of Tokyo’s nuclear energy policy — renews automatically on Monday after the current pact, which took effect in 1988, expires.

The agreement allows Japan to be the sole non-nuclear-weapons state to use plutonium for peaceful purposes and underlies the country’s policy of recycling spent nuclear fuel.

But the renewal comes at a time when Japan’s “plutonium exception” is increasingly under scrutiny. Instead of negotiating a new pact that could last several decades, Washington and Tokyo chose an automatic extension of the current agreement.

The agreement signed three decades ago stated that after the 30-year period expired, the terms would remain in force but could be terminated by either side with a six months’ notice. Japan worries that without a new long-term agreement, the country enters an “extremely unstable situation,” Foreign Minister Taro Kono has said.

Japan’s neighbors have cried foul over Japan’s plutonium exception. China has said it creates a path for Japan to obtain nuclear weapons. South Korea, which also has a nuclear cooperation agreement with the U.S., has pressed Washington hard to be granted similar freedom on fuel reprocessing.

Countries such as Saudi Arabia that are looking to develop their own nuclear programs have also protested.

Under President Barack Obama, Japan’s plutonium stockpiles — much of which is stored in the U.K. — drew uncomfortable attention in Washington. In March 2016, Thomas Countryman, the then-assistant secretary of state for nonproliferation, told a Senate hearing that he “would be very happy to see all countries get out of the plutonium reprocessing business.”

President Donald Trump has shown less interest in preventing nuclear proliferation, but is committed to dismantling North Korea’s nuclear facilities and materials. Resolving the inconsistent treatment afforded Japan’s plutonium stockpile would make it easier to convince Pyongyang to give up reprocessing capabilities as part of its denuclearization, Countryman told Nikkei recently.

The Trump administration appears aware of these arguments. The National Security Council and State Department have requested that Japan reduce its stockpile and otherwise ensure its plutonium is used and managed appropriately. On July 3, Japan’s cabinet approved a new basic energy plan that includes reducing plutonium holdings, aiming to assuage American concerns.

But Japan’s mostly idled nuclear power industry makes working through the stockpile a challenge.At one point after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, all of the country’s reactors were offline. Nine have managed to restart under stricter safety standards adopted in the wake of the meltdowns, but only a few Japanese reactors can run on so-called mixed-oxide fuel containing plutonium.

Regulators have asked utilities such as Shikoku Electric Power and Kyushu Electric Power that are working to restart nuclear reactors to look into consuming plutonium fuel held by other power companies. But this would require potentially difficult negotiations with local governments.

One other option is to pay overseas countries that store plutonium on Japan’s behalf to dispose of them, but that would involve discussion on the international level.

“The only viable option is to explain to the world the steady efforts we are making toward reduction,” said an official at the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, which is responsible for Japan’s energy policy.

So far, the U.S. has not called on Japan to abandon its plutonium entirely, or to speed up its reduction. And there is little chance the U.S. will end the cooperation agreement, as “Japan’s nuclear technology is indispensable to the American nuclear industry,” according to a Japanese government source.

But Tokyo worries that the Trump administration may apply the same transactional approach it has to other foreign policy issues to the question of Japan’s plutonium.

July 16, 2018 Posted by | - plutonium, Japan, reprocessing | Leave a comment

Japan’s nuclear reprocessing must end – to stop accumulation of weapons-useful plutonium

Make US-Japanese nuclear cooperation stable again: End reprocessing, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, By Victor GilinskyHenry Sokolski, June 27, 2018 

In a little-noticed but remarkable statement last week, Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono described a key pillar of the Japanese-American alliance—US-Japanese peaceful nuclear cooperation—as “unstable.” His pronouncement comes on the eve of the automatic renewal of the 1988 US-Japan peaceful nuclear cooperation agreement in July and days after US officials privately pressured Tokyo to reduce its vast plutonium holdings (some 45 tons —which translates to nearly 9,000 nuclear bombs’ worth).

The starting point in dealing with this massive plutonium stockpile: Keep it from growing. That means Tokyo needs to freeze plans to open its large Rokkasho reprocessing plant, which can separate eight more tons of plutonium a year.

The United States and Japan got to this awkward spot in the 1970s and ‘80s, when Tokyo insisted it needed plutonium to fuel a future generation of fast breeder reactors and sought permission to extract it from irradiated US-supplied uranium fuel. We had earlier allowed the Euratom countries to do this and so President Reagan, hesitating to distinguish among close allies, relented. As Under Secretary of State Richard T. Kennedy told the Senate in 1982 in explaining blanket approvals for Japan and Euratom, “The US will not inhibit or set back civil reprocessing and breeder reactor development abroad in nations with advanced nuclear programs where it does not constitute a proliferation risk … nations which regard the uses of plutonium as crucial to meeting their future nuclear energy needs.”

The 1988 understanding with Japan was the only US nuclear cooperation agreement with an individual country that granted blanket reprocessing approval for the duration of the agreement (which, with automatic extensions, effectively meant forever). The agreement approved reprocessing for Japan both in British and French reprocessing plants and in any that Japan itself might build. Meanwhile, Japan’s fast breeder development faltered (as did other such breeder programs around the world), and Japan installed no commercial reactors of this type. Because it has a large fleet of nuclear power plants that produce spent nuclear fuel containing plutonium and reprocessing arrangements at home and abroad, Japan has amassed an enormous plutonium stockpile.

The legal basis of this blanket approval was problematic from the start. The General Accounting Office (GAO) told Congress that the agreement was so permissive it violated the strict nonproliferation requirements in Section 131 of the US Atomic Energy Act. For this reason, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee urged the Reagan administration to renegotiate the agreement, but the administration overrode Congressional opposition.

In Section 131 b 2, the Atomic Energy Act requires that reprocessing of nuclear reactor fuel supplied by the United States, and extraction of plutonium, take place only with US permission and sets forth the standard for granting reprocessing approvals: The secretaries of Energy and State must find that the action “will not result in a significant increase of the risk of proliferation.” The “foremost consideration” in making that finding is whether the United States will have “timely warning,” that is, “well in advance of the time at which the non-nuclear weapon state could transform the diverted material into a nuclear explosive device.”………..

The official justification for allowing nuclear power systems based on plutonium—a fuel that is also a nuclear explosive—argued that they would be subject to IAEA inspections, which are intended to deter diversion of fissile material to military use by providing warning in time to thwart any such diversion. But the IAEA couldn’t do that in the case of separated plutonium, so something had to give. What buckled was the definition of timely warning, which was rationalized to be met if we had sufficient confidence that the recipient of our exports would not build nuclear weapons. Hence, Under Secretary of State Kennedy could speak in 1982 of countries like Japan where nuclear explosive materials do “not constitute a proliferation risk.”

The situation today, though, is radically different. The economic prospects of civilian nuclear power are now generally far less favorable than they were then; the rationale for plutonium-fueled breeder reactors, once widely believed to be the energy source of the future, has essentially evaporated.

There is no longer any reason to twist the plain meaning of the Atomic Energy Act’s requirement for timely warning. It effectively rules out approvals for plutonium separation, and therefore for reprocessing. Whereas one could have once plausibly argued that this would impose a severe cost on Japan, the situation is now completely reversed: If Japan shut down its Rokkasho reprocessing plant, it would now be freed from an outdated policy and would save a great deal of money.

The Rokkasho decision is of course up to Japan. But the United States should make clear where it stands, which it has not yet done. Such a step should be part of an overall US approach to end plutonium separation throughout the world, for which current nuclear power programs have no need. Nonproliferation and economics point in the same direction: no reprocessing provisions in future 123 agreements and urging other countries that sell nuclear material and technology to include such provisions in their agreements. The recent Korean summits emphasizing denuclearization and Secretary Pompeo’s recent stand against reprocessing in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Iran are steps in the right direction. They underline the importance of Japan ending its reprocessing. https://thebulletin.org/2018/06/make-us-japanese-nuclear-cooperation-stable-again-end-reprocessing/

July 7, 2018 Posted by | Japan, reprocessing | Leave a comment

Artificial intelligence (AI) can show where radioactive fallout would spread

In Case of a Nuclear Emergency, This New AI Shows Where Radioactive Fallout Will Spread   Head upwind. Science Alert, DAVID NIELD 4 JUL 2018

One of the areas where artificial intelligence really excels is in working out scenarios with a huge number of complex variables – like how radiation might spread after an accident at a nuclear power plant.

This is the focus of a new AI system developed in Japan, and it’s showing us more accurately than ever before where the safest (and most dangerous) points could be following a meltdown. Spoiler: stay upwind.

While it’s obviously better if nuclear plants don’t fail in the first place, knowing which way the fallout will travel can be crucial in organising emergency responses and keeping people safe. It can quite literally save lives – and a lot of them.

The new AI, developed by a team from the Institute of Industrial Science at the University of Tokyo, is able to factor in accident variables and prevailing weather patterns to work out where the threat of radiation could be worst, up to 33 hours in advance.

“Our new tool was first trained using years of weather-related data to predict where radioactivity would be distributed if it were released from a particular point,” says one of the team, Takao Yoshikane.

“In subsequent testing, it could predict the direction of dispersion with at least 85 percent accuracy, with this rising to 95 percent in winter when there are more predictable weather patterns.”

You can see the model in action below:

……..The new prediction model can provide useful information about which areas will be worst affected and need evacuating, and which areas have a lower risk – in these areas the residents might just get warnings about being careful what they eat and drink.

With the high temperatures associated with nuclear disaster, radioactive material can travel up to 2,000 metres (6,562 feet) into the air, the scientists report – reaching winds in the upper troposphere that can spread fallout all across the world.

At the lowest level, sea breezes and mountain valley winds can spread fallout locally. All these variables need to be accounted for to get a model that works………https://www.sciencealert.com/ai-can-figure-out-radioactive-fallout-spread

July 6, 2018 Posted by | Japan, technology | Leave a comment

Cancer patients in Queensland, Australia, benefit from nuclear medicine, safely produced at the hospital, with no need of a nuclear reactor

Cancer care in Queensland relies on nuclear medicine made in this concrete bunker http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-07-03/nuclear-medicine-concrete-bunker-central-to-states-cancer-care/9920624  ABC Radio Brisbane By Hailey Renault

Staff at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital’s nuclear medicine department get to work in the morning around the same time as a baker starts serving up hot bread.

But instead of kneading dough and priming ovens, the labcoat-clad workers manufacture medicines that diagnose and treat cancer.

It’s a delicate operation with rigorous quality control and testing protocols that start deep in the bowels of the hospital behind several layers of thick concrete.

A vault with walls more than a metre thick houses a particle accelerator called a cyclotron.

“It creates a proton beam which bombards oxygen-18 water and turns it into fluorine-18. That’s what we attach to those pharmaceuticals,” Dr Marissa Bartlett, manager of the Radiopharmaceutical Centre of Excellence, said.

The cyclotron is switched on at 4:00am every day to make a new batch of radiopharmaceuticals for lifesaving treatments and therapies.

“We make products that are taken up by cancer cells, so when a patient goes under the [PET] scanner the doctors can see pictures and images of where the cancer cells are,” Dr Bartlett told ABC Radio Brisbane’s Katherine Feeney.

“One of the therapies some patients who have cancer can have is a radionuclide therapy, which goes to the cancer cells and uses radiation to kill those cells.”

There’s no hazmat suits in sight — they’re not needed in a lab largely devoid of dangerous chemicals — but Dr Bartlett said lab workers were protected from radiation by a series of lead, lead-glass and concrete shields.

“When the cyclotron is on it generates very large amounts of radiation so it would be extremely dangerous to be anywhere near it when it’s on,” she said.

“In order to have it on campus we have it inside a concrete room. The walls of that room are thicker than I am tall.”

Medicines go direct to patients

Even though Dr Bartlett described the nuclear medicine department as an “obscure little branch” of hospital operations, many Queenslanders would come into contact with the radiopharmaceuticals it produced.

The Cancer Council of Queensland estimates nearly 27,000 people receive a cancer diagnosis each year.

“One of the things that makes this an amazing place to work is that you literally walk past the patients to get to the lab,” Dr Bartlett said.

“They might get news they really don’t want or maybe they’re coming back to see how their cancer is progressing or responding to treatment.

“We’re very aware of the patients who are lining up every day to get the products we make.”

And what happens to any radioactive materials that aren’t used?

“Everything we make has a very short half-life, so we basically store it until it decays away,” Dr Bartlett said.

“Then it’s completely cold and you wouldn’t know that it had been radioactive.”

July 6, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, health, technology | Leave a comment

USA’s costly new pork-barrel project – DOE’s Versatile Fast Neutron Source Nuclear Reactor

Science Mag 3rd July 2018 , Plans for a controversial multibillion-dollar U.S. nuclear research reactor
are coming together at lightning speed—much too fast, say some nuclear policy experts. With a push from Congress, the Department of Energy (DOE) has begun designing the Versatile Fast Neutron Source, which would be the first DOE-built reactor since the 1970s.

It would generate high-energy neutrons for testing materials and fuels for so-called fast reactors. But U.S. utilities have no plans to deploy such reactors, which some nuclear proliferation analysts say pose a risk because they use plutonium, the
stuff of atomic bombs.

Researchers are divided on whether the reactor, which would likely be built at Idaho National Laboratory (INL) near Idaho
Falls, is badly needed or a boondoggle. “Definitely, there is a lack of capability in the U.S. and a shortage of such facilities worldwide,” says Massimiliano Fratoni, a nuclear engineer at the University of California, Berkeley. But Frank von Hippel, a nuclear physicist at Princeton University, says, “It’s a pork-barrel project.”
http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2018/07/congress-pushes-multibillion-dollar-nuclear-reactor-critics-call-boondoggle

July 6, 2018 Posted by | technology, USA | Leave a comment

India’s space dream – to develop nuclear fuel from helium on the moon

India’s quest to find a trillion-dollar zero-waste nuclear fuel on the moon,  Financial Review by Anurag Kotoky, 28 June 18

India‘s space program wants to go where no nation has gone before – to the south side of the moon. And once it gets there, it will study the potential for mining a source of waste-free nuclear energy that could be worth trillions of dollars.

The nation’s equivalent of NASA will launch a rover in October to explore virgin territory on the lunar surface and analyse crust samples for signs of water and helium-3. That isotope is limited on Earth yet so abundant on the moon that it theoretically could meet global energy demands for 250 years if harnessed……..

The mission would solidify India’s place among the fleet of explorers racing to the moon, Mars and beyond for scientific, commercial or military gains. The governments of the US, China, India, Japan and Russia are competing with start-ups and billionaires Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson to launch satellites, robotic landers, astronauts and tourists into the cosmos. ……..

In the US, President Donald Trump signed a directive calling for astronauts to return to the moon, and NASA’s proposed $US19 billion ($26 billion) budget this fiscal year calls for launching a lunar orbiter by the early 2020s. …….

A primary objective, though, is to search for deposits of helium-3. Solar winds have bombarded the moon with immense quantities of helium-3 because it’s not protected by a magnetic field like Earth is. ……. “It is thought that this isotope could provide safer nuclear energy in a fusion reactor, since it is not radioactive and would not produce dangerous waste products,” the European Space Agency said.

……..  there are numerous obstacles to overcome before the material can be used – including the logistics of collection and delivery back to Earth and building fusion power plants to convert the material into energy. Those costs would be stratospheric…….https://www.afr.com/news/world/asia/indias-quest-to-find-a-trilliondollar-zerowaste-nuclear-fuel-on-the-moon-20180627-h11ykr

 

June 29, 2018 Posted by | India, technology | Leave a comment

China plans for a nuclear-powered icebreaker – then nuclear powered aircraft carriers?

June 29, 2018 Posted by | China, technology | Leave a comment

Trawsfynydd  – a new facility to try to stem the astronomic costs of UK’s “new nuclear”

BBC 27th June 2018 , Trawsfynydd  A £40m facility to support the design of advanced nuclear technologies
will be developed in north Wales by the Welsh and UK governments. It is in
addition to a £200m UK government nuclear sector deal to be launched in
Trawsfynydd, Gwynedd. … The chief
executive of the company behind plans for Wylfa Newydd on Anglesey welcomed
the proposals.

The UK-wide deal funded by public and private money also
includes: Up to £56m for research and development for “advanced modular
reactors” £86m UK government funding for a national fusion technology
platform at Culham, Oxfordshire. £32m for an advanced manufacturing and
construction programme. £30m for a new national supply chain programme.

A commitment from industry to reduce the cost of new nuclear build projects
by 30% by 2030, and the cost of decommissioning old nuclear sites by 20% by
2030. A new review to look at ways to accelerate the clean-up of nuclear
‘legacy’ sites. A commitment to increasing gender diversity in the civil
nuclear workforce with a target of 40% women in nuclear by 2030.

Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark said: “This sector deal marks an important
moment for the government and industry to work collectively to deliver the
modern industrial strategy, drive clean growth and ensure civil nuclear
remains an important part of the UK’s energy future.” Alun Cairns,
secretary of state for Wales, said Trawsfynydd has an “exciting future as
the potential site for the new generation of small reactors”. “Trawsfynydd
is ready to be transformed with little upgrade needed to the grid
infrastructure. “It’s in the right place with the right people and good
links to leading ac ademic research institutions in the nuclear sector,” he
said. Duncan Hawthorne, CEO of Horizon Nuclear Power the company behind the
Wylfa Newydd plans, welcomed the proposals.
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-politics-44634580

June 29, 2018 Posted by | politics, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

Germany’s successful development towards nuclear fusion

Daily Mail 26th June 2018 , A nuclear fusion experiment in Germany, dubbed the ‘star in a jar’, has
achieved a world record for plasma production, according to its creators.
Researchers were able to keep the device, technically known as Wendelstein
7-X, running for longer and at higher energy, than ever before. Its
performance is the best recorded for a stellarator type reactor and brings
the goal of producing limitless energy a step closer to reality,
researchers say. The new success was thanks to modifications made to the
walls of the reactor, which increase the temperature and efficiency of the
reaction.http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-5886603/Germanys-star-jar-fusion-reactor-comes-step-closer-producing-LIMITLESS-energy.html

June 29, 2018 Posted by | Germany, technology | Leave a comment